Here we are, half a dozen satin-clad carrots, huddling in the wings, about to go on stage and wow that audience of parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, wow them with our superior carrothood.
We will strut our pudgy bodies across the stage, thrust out our little-girl chests, wiggle our soft round tushies, our orange tutus shimmering, the carrot-shaped tassels on our ankles swaying left-right-left-right, our polished black tap shoes clickety clacking in place.
We will perform perfectly, because Miss Janis has trained us to be perfect. She is our dance teacher, she has real blond hair that hangs down to her waist, and she says we are just adorable, we are her own little angels.
There she goes, Miss Janis, hurrying past us. Smell her! She is all roses and peppermint. She parts the heavy red curtain and steps out onto the stage.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” she says, (that’s what she calls our crybaby sisters and our snotty-nosed brothers), “Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you now, our Beginners Class, in the World Premiere of . . . . The Carrot Dance.”
And just as she says that, and Mr. Malinowski pulls on the rope that makes the curtains yawn open, Angela Sabatini puts her right hand under her left armpit, exactly the way her cousin Petey taught her to, and she makes a giant splat of a noise with her arm that sounds just like a f-a-r-t.
Pandemonium among the carrots. We are nothing but a bunch of squishy limbs collapsing over one another. “Did you hear what she did?” ”Angela, you bad, bad, carrot” “I’m telling Miss Janis.” “Don’t push me!” “I didn’t push you, Brenda pushed you.”
Just then the music starts up. Bitsy Landau’s mother puts the needle down on the record, right on the place where she’s supposed to put it, our cue, Miss Janis calls it, our cue to tip-tappy our way, single file, out of the wings and onto the bright glare of the stage, with big, big smiles on our little girl mouths, and our hands up, left swing, right swing, and our legs kicking, higher, higher, 1, 2 , 1, 2, 1, 2, 3.
But . . . .
We don’t make our carrot entrance. We don’t dance our carrot dance. We stay right where we are, off stage, laughing and hiccupping, and Jacqueline Fein is turning green, and Bitsy Landau says she thinks she's going to pee. The music is still playing, not only our cue but the whole song, the whole carrot song.
Miss Janis is here, she’s right here in front of us, smelling like roses but also something stinkier than roses.
She is not smiling. She doesn’t fluff up our orange tutus or tell us how pretty we look or how proud we make her. She talks so fast and so low that little bits of spit fall out of her mouth.
“Get your damn asses out on that stage and dance, you little bitches.”
Bitsy Landau’s mother yanks the needle off the record. We hear the screetchy sound that means she yanked it, not just lifting the arm gently like you’re supposed to. And then she lowers it again, exactly on the right spot, and we hear our cue for the second time.
And we do it. First Brenda and then Melissa and then Angela and then Bitsy and then Jacqueline and then me. Six little carrots, a bunch of carrots, we are the carrots, we are doing the carrot dance.
Our mothers are happy. That’s why they’re crying. They’re crying tears of joy because we’re their little carrots and they sewed our little carrot costumes for us, and now they’re crying and laughing and clapping and everybody else is clapping too.
They love us. We are the very best carrots they have ever seen. There have never been such talented, delicious, chubby carrots going kick, kick, kick, turn. Not ever.
We dance our little carrot hearts out. We do it for Miss Janis.
Because we love her, and we know she loves us. We’re her precious little carrot angels.
Not that other word she said.
She was just being silly.
How could we be lady dogs?
We are carrots!